Friday, October 7, 2022

Osasuna - Valencia match thread

Putting this up for comments if anyone's interested.


To be honest, it's a bit demotivating to put more effort into these if, like the last one, no one comments.

27 minutes in and we're ahead! Cavani had had a quiet game but makes a great driving run on the counter, an intelligent run from Kluivert, excellent from Cavani to find him and Kluivert beats the keeper well. A great goal.

The match had been even up to this point with both sides having chances. Osasuna still look dangerous so all to play for. 

HALF TIME
A pleasing first half, after around the 20th minute we took control and looked the better side. We've been defensively solid and looked threatening in attack. I'd like to see the midfield three more involved as Osasuna have found their way through there too often. Going well, but against such a difficult side we need to increase the lead.

52: words I never thought I'd type with Valencia temporarily in European places 8 games in: a great poacher's goal from Valencia's leading scorer this season.... Diakhaby! A corner is not cleared, the ball pings around, super effort from Ilaix to hold off players and Diakhaby manages to put it in.

54: Let off! Guillamon messes up and gives away a penalty. Chimy, who's just come on takes and skies it over the bar. Valencia maintain a 2-goal lead.

57: As Osasuna press, Valencia nearly get a 3rd, with Lino heading just wide.

69: Nooo! Another top class through ball finds Lino, he turns and is brought down. Penalty and red card. Cavani takes. Can he get off the mark? No, he hits the bar. Still 2-up but with a man advantage. We have Musah on for Guillamon who was on a yellow.

85: Valencia have been really sloppy in the last 10 minutes, inviting pressure and chances from Osasuna, who've missed a few good opportunities.

90: Valencia trying to hold the ball up, but Gaya ruins it with a senseless cross into no one.

92: Dumb from Diakhaby who says something from the bench to the referee and gets a 2nd yellow. Gattuso rightly furious. Diakhaby had had a good game otherwise.

 93: Just really stupid from Gaya. For the second time, with Valencia in possession and comfortably passing it around near the opposition box Gaya tries a senseless shot. It gives them possession and they go up to our area and score. Nervy stuff with 2 minutes left.

96: Combative finish, temper gets the better of Pena of Osasuna who kicks Duro and gets a red card. Osasuna finish the last half minute with 9 men.

FULL TIME
Valencia get their first away win since March. A deserved win and the scoreline was fair as Osasuna had chances too especially at the end. A solid performance all over the pitch I thought. Valencia temporarily 5th and Gattuso finally has more points than Bordalas had at the equivalent game of the season!



Sunday, October 2, 2022

Espanyol - Valencia match thread

 After a solid win over Celta 2 weeks ago, Valencia come into this game with the age old question of whether decent home form can be translated into results away. That has often been the club's problem.

Evaluating Gattuso's start so far, with 9 points, it's mixed in relation to former managers. A win today would produce a start bettered in the last 11 seasons only by Nuno and Marcelino's debut seasons. A draw or a defeat would mean the same average start we've seen far too often and leave a struggle for the European places ahead.


Espanyol come into the game in poor form. They needed a 98th minute goal to get a draw at Celta on the opening day, lost at home to Rayo and R. Madrid, got a surprise win at Bilbao before losing at home to Sevilla and away to Sociedad. The pressure is also on them to get results.

For our line-up, Musah remains the main injury doubt so the only questions are 3 positions in the centre. Will Paulista partner Diakhaby or will Comert be preferred? Which 3 of Guillamon, Almeida, Ilaix or Nico will start? Up front will Cavani start or will Marcos Andre or Duro start instead?

Line up and updates will follow.

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And we have the line-up and it's one free of surprises.


Let's hope for the 3 points!

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10 minutes in and Espanyol had the better start, pressing us, but we had the best chances. First Gaya's cross was missed by Cavani and then Lino dribbled well to leave himself one on one, though with a defender on him and from an angle and was saved by the keeper.

12: good work again from Lino. He lays it off to Cavani who shoots over.

16: Uff. Guillamon, who's been shaky so far, gives it away. There's a 3 on 3 break and Mamardashvili has to turn away Braithwaite's shot.

23: Nice! Diakhaby, Almeida and Lino with a great link up but the shot is just wide.

28: We've looked in control but only the Lino chances to show for it.

45: most of our attacks have come down the left. It looks like Lino and Castillejo have switch sides. 57% possession but without too many threats. Cavani has been disappointing. 

46: Kluivert is on for Castillejo who was invisible the first half, though the right side saw almost nothing in passing. Hopefully Castillejo isn't injured as he was good in previous games and earned a player of the month nomination.

47: penalty claim for Espanyol but looks like the ball just missed Thierry's hand.

50 break on for Espanyol but great work by Gaya to cut it out. Guillamon, whose passing has sucked gives it back.

52: GOAL! Through ball finds Ilaix, who puts in a good centre for Cavani who can't get there. Espanyol put it out for a corner, nice header down from Paulista, the keeper gets a hand but it creeps in at the post.

55: FFS. 1-1. It's very close, Joselu is just about level when he gets the ball and he curls it past the defender and keeper off the post.

62: close again from Espanyol, Braithwaite gets and forces a save, the ball pings around and reaches Darder whose bouncing shot goes out off the bar. We're on the back foot now.

67: chances for both teams. Cavani hits a free kick just over, Joselu gets in but Diakhaby and Gaya do enough to put him off and he shoots over.

72: Espanyol have looked the more likely to score, sadly. Triple substitution. Comert on for Paulista, Andre for Cavani, Nico for Almeida.

77: first Valencia chance in a while, centre from Gaya, Kluivert just can't get to it, comes to Andre who blasts over.

80: excellent from Guillamon who makes space and force a great save from their keeper as it was going in.

82: Losing 2-1. Comert did well to cut out a pass, but we're clumsy in midfield possession, give it away, Darder is allowed to run freely and his shot from out of the area goes on. Unusually poor from Mamardsashvili who was wrongfooted.

83: Duro on for Ilaix.

84: Going from bad to worse, Marcos Andre tussles with their defender. Looked like 6 of one half a dozen of the other to me, but he puts his hand on the defender's face and he goes down like he was hit with a baseball bat. Red card for Andre and we're down to 10 men.

91: 10 men each as Braitwaite is sent off for fouling Thierry. 7 minutes left of added time to rescue something.

92: Valencia really pushing. Mamardashvili is even on their half to make a pass. Nico, who gave it away for their 2nd hits a good shot which their keeper fumbles but just managed to push off the line.

95: GOAL! Lucky, but it counts. Valencia put a throw in, it's knocked out. Comert puts the ball into the box looking for a colleague but somehow it sails over the keeper, who totally misses it.


FINAL: 2-2

Somewhere between disappointment and thinking that a draw is a fair result. Valencia looked in control for much of it but gifted a goal to Darder, then had to rely on luck to fluke an equaliser. After 7 games the feeling would still be that we're more exciting to watch but are going to have a similar finish to last time, a mid table irrelevance.  

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamardashvili 5.5: made a few important stops but at fault for their goal.
Gaya 6.5: good game in defence and attack, his crossing was better here.

Diakhaby 6.5: another solid game and his passing continues to improve.
Paulista 6: apart from Espanyol's opener, handled Joselu well. Looked better this game and scored.
Thierry 6: a quiet first half, saw more action in the 2nd and provoked the dismissal of Braithwaite.
Ilaix 5: needs to get forward more and stop going for the foul, but had few mistakes.
Almeida 4: very quiet game where he saw little of the ball
Guillamon 6: After a shaky start when he was gifting possession improved in the 2nd half and was unlucky not to score.
Lino 7: a constant threat to their defenders in the first half, though ran out of steam in the 2nd.
Cavani 3.5: disappointing game and so far he's been rusty it's been a case of Uruguayan up front with nothing happening, same as last season.
Castillejo 2.5: worst game of the season. Totally anonymous and barely touched the ball.

SUBS:
Kluivert 5: lively at times, but lacking experience
Nico 4: guilty of gifting possession for them for their second, nearly made up for it with an equaliser.
Comert 6: has been this season's most improved player. Now looks sound in defence and got a lucky goal.
Andre 2: improvement on Cavani, and the red card was dubious, but you're asking for trouble when you put your hands in someone's face. He really should know better and could have cost us the game.
Duro: not enough time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Valencia sign Herrerin

Valencia have announced the signing of Iago Herrerin on a free transfer as he was a free agent following the long term injury to Jaume Domenech, who is expected to be out until around March.


Herrerin is a Bilbao youth product who broke through into the first team but was mostly back-up to Kepa. He played most games in the 2018-19 season before being displaced the following season by Unai Simon. Loan spells followed before he spent last season at Al Raed in Saudi Arabia. He joins us after a successful trial with a contract till the end of the season with an option to renew for a further season.

I see some fans on social media criticising this. What's wrong with Mamardashvili and Rivero, they say? Definitely nothing in the case of Mamardashvili, but Rivero is untested in La Liga, whereas Herrerin has La Liga, Copa and European experience. It wouldn't be the first time both keepers got injured at the same time (happened last season and at the start of Nuno's 2nd season) so having an extra experienced option as cover makes perfect sense and there were few other free agents with La Liga experience available. It remains to be seen how much he'll play, Valencia is in the super cup this season, so unlike the previous two seasons, we start in Copa del Rey at round of 32 instead of round of 128, skipping two games against 3rd or 4th level sides.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Mamardashvili renewed until 2027

In welcome news, Valencia today finished the contract renewal and upgrade of Giorgi Mamardashvili. He renews until 2027 with his release clause increased from 20 million to 100 million euros.


He joined us on loan lasy year from Dinamo Tbilisi with a buy option of 800,000 and was expected to play for Valencia Mestalla while we assessed him. However, injuries to both Cillessen and Jaume, with Rivero already being loaned out, threw him in at the deep end and he did well enough in the early games to keep his place when Cillessen returned. That prompted Valencia to exercise the buy clause.

However, doubts crept it with a few errors and after a horror show against Sevilla he was dropped. He was benched for over 4 months, during which time he became disgruntled and sought a loan out at one point. He returned to the team at the start of February and played most games after that in La Liga and unusually, the Copa del Rey as well. By the end of the season he had clearly established himself as first choice so no one complained when Cillessen was moved out. The low release clause remained a worry but having retained him this window, we now have space to play with.

The question is now about the other renewals. Guillamon, Gaya, Diakhaby, Jaume and Lato all finish contract next summer and all should be renewed in that order.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Valencia 3-0 Celta match thread

 After a disappointing and poor performance last week, the pressure is on to get something from today against Celta. They're just above us in the standings following a mixed start. They began in disappointing style dropping 2 points to a 98th minute penalty equaliser at home to Espanyol. They also lost 1-4 at home to Real Madrid and by the same scoreline away to Atletico Madrid. However they beat relegation favourites Cadiz 3-0 at home and won 1-0 at Girona. Brais Mendes was a big loss for them in the summer, but they've retained Iago Aspas who has scored 5 goals in 5 games so far. His inexplicable omission from the Spain squad can only be down to personal disputes with Luis Enrique.


For Valencia, Jaume is out for many months and Yunus is an injury doubt for this game. On the plus side, Cavani has been training with the full squad and may make his debut tonight, though I'd expect him to come off the bench rather than start. Mamardashvili, Gaya and Thierry should all start. The biggest question is the defence. Diakhaby has been our best defender for a while now and it remains to be seen if Paulista will get another chance after being awful last week or if Comert will get the nod instead. If Yunus is unavailable then it most likely means a midfield of Guillamon and Nico, which means we may get to see Almeida start for the first time. I'd expect to see Duro or Andre start, flanked by Lino and Castillejo, with Cavani maybe coming on for last 20 minutes.

Our recent form against Celta has been good, 6-2-2 over the last five seasons, including winning both last season. Unfortunately, that counts for very little and if we have any hopes of a top half finish nevermind Europe, this is a must-win game.

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So, Cavani starts to my surprise. Comert plays instead of Paulista and Ilaix instead of Nico. Both changes totally justifiable benching 2 of the worst players from last week. Also good to see Almeida, who has shown brief flashes start instead of injury doubt Yunus.


Let's hope Cavani can find his best form!

26 minutes in and both teams have mostly cancelled each other out. Our best chance has actually come from Diakhaby hitting the post from a corner. We've been trying to get the ball in to Cavani but the accuracy just hasn't been there. Thierry and Moriba both had great bits of skill but nothing resulted. Celta have had a couple of half hearted penalty shouts. Their best chances were when Comert mishit a pass and Guillamon had to commit a tactical foul and take a yellow for the team Guillamon was the villain for the second, giving it away when we were trying to play it out from the back. We've been careless in posession.

HALF-TIME
We improved in the later part of the half and lead 1-0. It was a good goal. Great work from Lino on the left holding off two defenders. He tried to beat the keeper who parried and Castillejo was quickest to follow up and finish well. Didn't see much of Cavani but I think our midfield has handled them well. Moriba has been especially good. Diakhaby, Mamardashvili and Thierry have been solid. A bit disappointed with Gaya's passing. As in previous games we've dominated possession. The main issue is that while we've done better than last week against a high press, we don't look very comfortable. Giving the ball away in risky positions hasn't hurt us so far but it will if we keep doing it. Unfortunately our team still looks unbalanced and inexperienced and seems to have mistakes waiting to happen.

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49: A bit of humour. Lino's shot is blocked by the Celta player with his elbow. It was in a natural position so no foul. But the commentator says "it came off his elbow, it was beside his arm." Yes, that's where elbows usually are found.

54: Insane. Lino is clearly brought down in the box. One of the most obvious penalties you'll see this weekend and he's booked for non-existent simulation. Disgraceful decision. What's the point of VAR?

59: The referee balancing it out for his poor call? Cervi of Celta gets a straight red for a dirty challenge on Thierry.

63: Celta get a rare corner, on the break Moriba is elbowed off the ball. Nothing doing says the ref, who's been poor this half. Moriba has been constantly fouled.

68: Moriba goes off for Nico after a very solid game.

71: Cavani goes off to a round of applause. Castillejo too. Kluivert and Andre are on. Celta get a free kick in a dangerous position and Mamardashvili produces a point blank save to deny them.

74: Good few minutes for us, with Gaya's shot from range forcing a save. But we need to bury this.

79: Chance! A good break, excellent through ball from Andre, but from an angle, Kluivert just can't beat the keeper. He forces a save from a header a minute later too.

82: Marcos Andre! Another Valencia break and this time there's no mistake. With the ball played forward, Gaya is strong to challenge and the ball falls to Andre who beats the keeper with a low drive.

84: Gaya and Comert off for Lato and Paulista.

93: 3-0! Celta look tired, we've been threatening  and after our cross is cut out, Guillamon threads it through to Almeida in the box and he finishes well for his first goal.

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FULL-TIME: 3-0
After an even first 30 minutes Valencia grew into the game and got a deserved win to chase away the disappointment of last week. Win or lose the team is just far more enjoyable to watch this season. There are definitely areas to improve. The passing can be careless, the final ball often is too rushed. Playing out from the back is clearly the game plan but we struggle with presses and the players often make mistakes in these situations. It's hoped they'll improve with experience.

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamaradashvili 7.5: deserved clean sheet, only suffered with a couple of mistakes in distribution
Gaya 5.5: a little disappointed with his crossing and final balls, but he redeemed himself with a key role in the second goal.
Comert 6: much improved this season though can be a bit careless with passing under pressure
Diakhaby 7: enjoying a really good run in the team. Never misplaced a pass and his positioning is always correct.
Thierry 7: Had a good day. Strong in defence and in attack with even a few flashy moments.
Guillamon 6.5: helped the team well with a tactical foul and assist, but can be a bit too carefree on the ball in dangerous positions
Almeida 6.5: his first full game and it was a solid one with good passing and a goal
Ilaix 7.5: probably his best game for us, a commanding presence in midfield 
Lino 7: a flair player, good involvement in 2 of the goals. Can still be too selfish but given his contribution can be forgiven for that today.
Castillejo 6.5: a continual threat on their wing and moved well. Took his goal confidently. He's now the team's top scorer!
Cavani 5: a quiet, almost disappointing debut. He worked hard but had little of the ball to work with.

Nico 5: filled the hole in midfield but wasn't that productive 
Marcos Andre 6.5: good sub appearance, making their defenders work and taking his goal well
Kluivert 6.5: very lively presence. Didn't get a goal but it's coming, needs to maintain this level.
Paulista 5: late sub, didn't have much to do but looked better than last week
Lato 5.5: late sub but covered well 



Saturday, September 10, 2022

Rayo Vallecano 2-1 Valencia match thread

Valencia come into this game after a morale boosting thumping win over Getafe. Prior to that game, many questions had been asked about whether the team could, for all the improved play and possession the previous game, actually get shots on target, let alone score goals and they answered in emphatic fashion. But in the end this is only one game and the team in fact still has 4 points less than Bordalas did after his first four games which included a 4-1 win at Osasuna, so we need to see this sustained across several games before we can get excited.

Rayo's start has been patchy. They started well against the Barcelona teams, getting a draw in Nou Camp before winning at Espanyol, but then they lost at home to Mallorca, with Kangin Lee getting a goal and assist. The last game they lost to a 90th minute winner at Osasuna. It's been an unproductive ground for Valencia to play at, our last win there came in December 2014 in the Copa del Rey while the last league win was in May 2013. 

In team news, Jaume got a serious injury and may miss most of the season. The club is evaluating the option of signing ex-Bilbao keeper Iago Herrerin as cover for the season. As one of the only free agents with La Liga experience, he's the obvious choice. Diakhaby and Marcos Andre have recovered from their injuries and are available, while Paulista and Gaya are back. On the other hand, Ilaix is suspended after his sending off last week. 


Gaya and Paulista come back today replacing Lato and Comert. Cavani is still training and not involved yet.

4 min: And Valencia are behind already. We tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but got dispossessed, we gave away a soft foul in a dangerous position and poor defending meant they scored.

10 min: we've struggled with Rayos' press and have given the ball away too cheaply leading to them having the better chances.

14 min: shambles at the back. We lose the ball easily in midfield, Trejo totally owns Paulista with a turn and has the whole goal to aim at. Mamardashvili parries, Rayo have the chance again but Thierry blocks on the line. So nearly 2 down.

17 min: Alvaro Garcia accelerates, beats Thierry and Paulista (who's had a terrible game so far) but his centre is cut out by Diakhaby.

18 min: Musah gives it away with a sloppy pass in midfield, they're in again all too easy, and Mamardashvili has to put it behind for a corner.

25 min: Valencia have a rare spell of possession, but for the second time, Gaya overhits his cross which sails out for a goal kick.

28 min: cooling break and Valencia need to work something out. Midfield non-existent, getting totally overrun, mentally slow and getting easily dispossessed and rarely able to break out of our first third.

32 min: no change. Rayo still have us pinned back. They get their 5th corner (we've had none) and Mamardashvili punches away.

34 min: the ball bounces over Paulista and Rayo are in. Thierry body charges the Rayo player over in the box. Correctly not a penalty though I've seen ones like that given.

36 min: Valencia's first corner, but Nico flicks well over.

37 min: Valencia move it about well, but yet again Gaya messes up with his cross. They've been awful today.

39 min: Lino needs to learn to pass the ball. He gets it in a good position but dribbles into trouble. Needs to be more of a team player.

40 min another good chance for Rayo. Dangerous free kick and they head just over.

42 min: Castillejo fouled. I nearly forgot he was playing as, like Duro, he's barely had a touch

45 min: better! Valencia's corner is pushed out, we keep possession, Nico's shot is well charged down. It falls to Duro who volleys over though it was probably offside.

HALFTIME: We're lucky to be only one down. There were few positives there with Mamardashvili and Diakhaby saving a couple of dangerous attacks. It's hard to believe we've had 56% possession as they've dominated us.

46: Lino loses it but Thierry is strong to cover.

47: Valencia with the best chance yet, good work by Castillejo in taking out 2 defenders, Musah's cutback gives Nico the whole goal to shoot at but he puts it over.

51: Terrible. Trejo gets past 3 of our players. Nico brings him down. We give away an unnecessary corner and with no danger, Nico slices it into his own net. Why isn't Almeida on instead? 0-2

54: Heart in mouth as Paulista gets owned yet again. Camello with a good chance blocked. We get the corner clear but after the ball spins across our area, luckily no Rayo player there to get a touch but they're pushing for a third.

57 Thierry is brought down in a dangerous position. Commentator thinks we'll be missing Soler. Why? He never hit a useful free kick that I remember. Gaya hits it and at least gets it on target but it's easy for the keeper. Marcos Andre has come on for Nico.

61: Valencia have a couple of corners without creating anything. Lino, as usual, dawdles on the ball, tries to dribble a bit and loses it, there's a dangerous counter on which Mamardashvili has to come way out to clear. Someone with the initials GG needs to have a word with Lino.

64: Good free kick put in which Paulista heads just over. Kluivert and Lato on for Duro and Gaya.

70: We move it up the field well, but Lato overhits his cross with Andre waiting in the centre.

72: Cooling break. It looks like we've switched to a 4-4-2 with Kluivert and Andre up front but nothing much happening. Rayo at least have run out of steam a bit but they should be ok with a 2-goal lead.

76: good interception and pass from Diakhaby finding Andre but a poor first touch lets him down and the danger passes.

78: Mamardashvili saves us again, that's Rayo's 6th shot on target, we've had 1. Almeida on for Guillamon.

82: A good run from Lino but again, instead of centring it, he selfishly takes a shot which the keeper easily covers.

92: DIAKHABY! A good few minutes from Valencia. Almeida centres from a free kick and Diakhaby knocks it in at the back post. Too little, too late.

FULL TIME.
A poor and really flat performance after the high of last week. The team showed their inexperience against a high press in the first half and got overrun. Really a 1-goal loss flatters us. Rayo hadn't won at home in 9 months but beat us so easily. The questions being asked before the previous game return.

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamardashvili 6: saved us on a couple of occasions. Without him it would have been more.
Thierry 4: mostly covered his side well, but also lost possession in some dangerous areas.
Paulista 1: awful return to the side, constantly out of position and failed when needed, hard to believe that Comert looked better.
Diakhaby 5: best of the defence, cut out a number of dangerous balls and grabbed a consolation at the end.
Gaya 3: sluggish return and his crossing was abysmal in this game, ruining some promising chances.
Guillamon 4: overrun with the rest of the midfield, needed more presence this game.
Nico 0: poor in midfield, missed one of our best chances and scored their winner. Can it get any worse?
Musah 4: was full of energy but his passing was off and never got a chance to link up in any meaningful way
Castillejo 3: had a couple of good link ups at the end after an invisible first half.
Lino 3: has ability and is a good dribbler but way too selfish. PASS THE BALL!
Duro 3: forgettable day, though he was starved of any service.

Andre 4: more lively than Duro and posed more of a threat but the final touch wasn't there.
Lato 4: an improvement on Gaya, especially in the passing sense.
Kluivert 4: limited time generated some moments of danger and forced a save from the keeper
Almeida 5: limited time but performed well in the brief period he was on and got a good assist.




Sunday, September 4, 2022

Valencia 5-1 Getafe match thread

 It's half-time in the Mestalla as I write this. In terms of playing style Valencia had started the season much better, unfortunately only 1 win and 2 defeats were the results. A big question before this game was if Valencia could actually create anything, as we'd only created 3 shots on goal from open play. 




The answer so far has been an emphatic yes. Valencia have dominated Getafe, blitzing them with 3 goals in the opening 16 minutes. Besides the good result so far, the team looks to be playing with bags of confidence, stringing passed together and generally looking very with it. Castillejo and Lino, 2 players who've been criticised so far in the season, have played well and contributed with goals. Whatever the result today, it's much better to watch this version of Valencia play.

FULL TIME
The match finished 5-1, a deserved result. Super performances from Lino and Musah and it was good to see the youngsters doing one touch and accurate passing rather than the "kick it upfield and hope" anti-football we saw last season. A few negatives, with both Marcos Andre and Diakhaby going off injured and Musah limping around a bit at the end, though in the case of him and Diakhaby it didn't look so serious. I only counted one Diakhaby mistake from a misplaced pass and he went off to a round of applause. Comert also made a couple of important interceptions. A run of mostly winnable games coming up. Let's hope we can maintain this level